Rainwear/Coated Fabrics
by Shannon Gifford
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  • Rainwear/Coated Fabrics

    Making a stylish rainwear garment is easy, thanks to the new generation of water-resistant and water-proof fabrics. These fabrics are quite stable, which makes them a good choice for an advanced beginner. Rainwear fabric comes in two versions. The first type is a base fabric which has been treated with a waterproofing material. This fabric will sometimes have a second layer of fabric fused permanently to the back of the fabric, often a knit, for comfort in wearing. The second type of fabric is a densely woven synthetic which is inherently water resistant. The fabrics have similar sewing requirements; any differences will be noted in the specific categories of construction.

    Pretreatment:

    Do not pretreat this fabric. The qualities that are important for rainwear (the tight weave, the water-proof coating) will be damaged by the action of a washer and the heat of a dryer. Instead, clean your finished piece by wiping off excess moisture and hanging in a well-ventilated area until completely dry.

    Needles and Thread:

    Microtex needles are an excellent choice for rainwear fabrics. Choose the smallest needle that you can thread easily, as this fabric will show any needle and pin holes. If you cannot locate a microtex needle, use a 75/11 sharp (packaged as a "quilting" needle). Use an all-polyester thread for this project.

    Seams, Seam Finishes, and Hems:

    Lengthen your stitches slightly for this fabric, to approximately 3.0-3.5 length. Hems are beautiful when done with a coverstitch. Be sure to remove any auxiliary needles from your coverstitch machine, as pinholes will leave a permanent mark in the fabric. If you do not have coverstitch capabilities, use a double row of topstitching for your hems. Lengthen the stitch to 3.5 for this hem stitching. Seam finishes are not necessary to prevent fraying, as the fabric does not ravel. However, you may choose to topstitch your seams to encourage them to remain flat. If so, use the same 3.5 length stitching as for your machine hem. You can finger press the seam open and stitch on each side of the seamline, or you may choose to finger press the seam to one side, trim out the inner layer of the seam allowance, and run one row of topstitching to secure the seam in place.

    Interfacing:

    Test your fabric before fusing any interfacing. Some of these fabrics do not respond well to the application of heat; in these cases, a sew-in interfacing will be necessary. Choose cotton muslin or batiste, washed to eliminate the possibility of further shrinkage, and cut it using the same grainlines as the rainwear fabric. Baste the interfacing to the rainwear fabric with dots of glue stick. (The school variety glue stick works fine.) If you find that your fabric will accept a low heat iron, use the lightest weight fusible, such as So Sheer, and apply without using steam.

    Pattern Suggestions:

    Trench coats, ponchos, jackets, capes, hoods.

    Creative Possibilities:

    For a creative topstitching, use your zigzag stitch, set to 2.5 width and 2.5 length. Put two strands of your construction thread through the machine needle.

    Additional Tips:

    Magnetic closures, metal eyelets/grommets, long-prong snaps and separating zippers all work well with this fabric. Buttons and buttonholes will require additional reinforcement, such as a second layer of interfacing. Again, avoid the use of heat on this fabric.

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